In the lead-up to the May 21 Federal Election, Free TV Australia has called the Labor Opposition’s commitment to keeping free sport on TV and ensuring that free television services are prominent on Smart TVs a major win for Australian viewers.
Free TV Chairman, Greg Hywood said “Today’s statement from Labor really backs the Australian way of life. It recognises that free television is a fundamental part of our community, bringing people together through live sport, trusted news and Australian entertainment and drama programming.
“But whether we can continue to enjoy this valued free service is not free from doubt. Without the urgent action on prominence that Labor has committed to today, Australians risk not being able to find live TV channels and broadcaster video-on-demand content services on new Smart TVs and other devices. That’s why we have been calling this the most critical issue in media regulation.”
Free TV CEO, Bridget Fair commented, “All Australians deserve the right to share our great sporting moments for free, and that right is in serious jeopardy. There is a real risk that iconic sports events could be exclusively acquired by subscription streaming platforms that aren’t covered by the current anti-siphoning rules, which are 30 years old and only cover free-to-air and pay TV. We could easily see a major subscription streaming service buy up exclusive rights to the sporting events that bring us together like the Olympics, NRL or AFL and force Australians to pay to watch them.
“What we’ve got is analogue legislation in a digital world. The rules urgently need to be updated to protect the access of all Australians to live and free sport,” Ms Fair said.
Free TV has been calling for the anti-siphoning list to be renewed and expanded to guard against iconic sports being exclusively locked behind the paywalls of subscription streaming and pay TV services as part of its Free. For Everyone campaign which launched in December 2021.
Research released by Free TV in February 2022 revealed strong support for commercial television services in the electorate:
- 78% of Australians agree that reliable free-to-air television services are crucial, especially for those without strong internet;
- 76% of Australians agree that free-to-air television ensures Australians have access to iconic sporting events; and
- 72% of Australians agree that free-to-air television allows access to television without straining budgets.
“What we’ve found is that Australians value free-to-air television, and the public want our politicians to support our industry too and we are pleased that Labor has unequivocally committed to speedy action to protect these vital services for all Australians.”